Friday, August 31, 2012
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Forgy: Postpone certain large projects, develop 5-year infrastructure plan

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[August 31, 2012]  Tuesday evening, Darren Forgy of Prairie Engineers was invited by Alderwoman Marty Neitzel to take the lead on a discussion about infrastructure projects in the city of Lincoln.

Neitzel, who chairs the street and alley committee for the city of Lincoln, had two weeks ago called for a special meeting of that committee for Tuesday evening to discuss bid proposals for work on Lincoln Avenue and the Oglesby bridge demolition project.

Bids for these projects, as well as for bridge approach work on three streets that intersect Brainard's Branch, and a bid for a sewer slip line project for Union Street had all been received and opened over the last few weeks.

At last week's voting meeting of the council, the bids for the bridge approaches and slip lining were approved, and work is expected to take place this fall.

This week Forgy explained why some of the other bids had been tabled and why the special meeting was now taking place.

Forgy said that in the Lincoln Avenue project, more needed to be done than the bid specifications had indicated.

The original specifications called for the reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue from North Logan to College. When the bids were opened, the cost of the project ranged from $300,000 to $363,000

Forgy said that section of Lincoln Avenue is currently "mounded up" in the middle, and the curbs are not of a sufficient elevation for the street. He said these problems needed to be remedied and were not included in the bids.

Forgy said to do a proper job on the street, earthwork needed to be done to level out the mound in the middle and make the road flatter.

He said there were also other deficiencies, such as not enough slope in the sidewalk for ADA-compliant approaches, and the slope was not long enough. He also noted that when the earthwork was done on the road, it would mean work would also need to be done to regrade some of the driveways along the street.

Forgy said there were enough changes involved in the specifications that when he talked to city attorney Blinn Bates, the attorney felt the current bids should be thrown out and new bids taken that included all the changes Forgy wanted to see in the specs.

Forgy said doing this would delay the entire project into the winter, so he would suggest that the city wait to go out for bid until early next year, with the intentions of starting the project in the early spring of 2013.

Forgy also suggested the city might want to consider using concrete surfacing for the project. Concrete will increase the cost of the project by about $100,000, but it was noted that a concrete road is a 50-year road, so in the long run the added cost will pay for itself in money saved on future repairs and resurfacing.

He told the committee that with concrete, the work could be done in cold weather, so if they wanted to go with that, they could move forward now with bids.

Forgy summarized that his recommendation would be to not award the project, take a step back and put into place a capital improvement plan that could include going forward with this project next year.

During discussion, Melody Anderson noted that the information Forgy had handed to aldermen indicated approximately another $83,000 in costs without the concrete. Forgy said that was a very rough estimate, but yes, that was the kind of increase the city could expect.

David Wilmert questioned the estimated amount for the concrete at $100,000: Was that too a rough figure? He also wondered if it was a true figure for work that would be done in the winter or fall as opposed to a different time of year.

Forgy said yes, that estimate was more solid because he had taken the figure from standard information provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation for the cost of concrete on Illinois projects.

Wilmert then asked if the city could afford the extra costs. Anderson, who chairs the finance committee, explained that these projects would be covered by infrastructure funds, and yes, there would be money available for the increased costs because that is restricted cash that cannot be used in other areas.

Mayor Keith Snyder also noted the original engineer-estimated cost of the project was $450,000. The earlier bids came in far below that. Looking at the current bid, adding the costs of the earthwork and the concrete, Snyder said there was not a great deal of difference in the estimate and what the new final cost might be.

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Snyder also noted that the infrastructure fund receives approximately $800,000 a year. There is currently about $1,000,000 in the fund, and it will grow to $1.8 million throughout this year.

Snyder commented further: "Prairie Engineers is talking about completing for us a five-year capital improvement plan, which will look at basically all of our streets and prioritize the ones that need to be addressed first. I don't think we've ever had that done before."

Snyder also said that the Lincoln Avenue project might end up back at the top of that list, or not.

O'Donohue then asked if this would mean that in this year no street work would be done at all. He was told there are items that have already been bid and the bids accepted. Those projects would still go forward.

Changing direction, Forgy moved on to the bids for the demolition of the Oglesby bridge. He said the conceptual design presented in the bid specifications did not meet with IDOT standards for a "turnaround." Specifications need to be adjusted for a cul-de-sac.

He said there would be enough new work and increased costs to warrant going out for bid again on this project too.

Neitzel asked how the city should approach the bidders, if it is decided to reject all the bids. Forgy said a letter should be sent to the bidders, but it should be carefully crafted not to make a promise for next year. He said if the city goes with a five-year plan, the projects may or may not go forward next year.

Wilmert said he felt the committee should accept the engineer's recommendation to reject all the bids.

O'Donohue said he felt there should also be a decision on a five-year plan. He also wondered if there would be added costs involved from Prairie Engineers for developing the plan.

Forgy said as interim engineers they are being paid on an hourly basis, but there was time included in their contract for working on a capital improvement plan, among other things.

Wilmert then wondered if he could amend his motion on rejecting the bids to include developing of a capital plan. He was told he could and he did so, with Jeff Hoinacki, who had offered the original second, also offering a second to the amended motion.

Neitzel said she was in favor of a five-year plan because it would give the city an outline of what would be done and when. She said she preferred that over going about it "helter-skelter" as they have in the past.

Forgy also noted there are financial benefits to this type of plan. He said projects can be grouped together for bidding. By doing this, a contractor will know he has several projects at one time. It will save the contractor expense, and it could allow for some volume discounts for the city on materials.

Another topic that arose during this time was the actual timeline of work being done in the city. Anderson said she didn't like the idea of waiting till fall to start projects. She wanted to see future projects started earlier in the year and completed before fall.

The next voting session, normally scheduled for Monday, will be on Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday. There will be a motion on that agenda to reject all the bids for Lincoln Avenue and the Oglesby bridge and instruct Forgy and Prairie Engineers to move forward with developing a five-year infrastructure plan for the city.


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